End of the hockey season heralds spring.

It must be nearly spring because hockey season is finishing. At one point through winter we had hockey training or games seven days a week, sometimes twice a day.

But now it's almost over I'm not too concerned about Bruce getting underfoot because he has too much time on his hands — his cricket team is already making noises about practice starting and there will of course be summer hockey.

But the likelihood of cricket and summer hockey happening depends a great deal on the state of Bruce's body. After 50-plus years, it is starting to creak and twinge, but you are forced to admire his determination to keep going.


He's reluctant to stop playing because he thinks it will seize up completely. The latest injury is a knee, which hurts even when he's just walking fast. No way would he allow it to stop him playing in the last game of the season, so he went on and hobbled around for a good two-thirds of the match.

He hadn't shared with his team members just how much it was hurting so a few of them yelled at him to run faster.

Hopefully, it will come right now that his hockey is done for the season but no doubt the next twinge or twang is just around the corner.

The other day he climbed a fence at the grazing block we lease by a petrol station and truckstop. The fence gave way as he climbed over it and he grabbed at a wire to save himself.

Unfortunately, the wire he grabbed was electrified, the electricity was running strongly, and he shouted a loud exclamation as he fell before tottering away. A truck driver dozing in his cab was sufficiently concerned to lean out his window and yell "You all right there, mate?".

"Fine, thanks", Bruce muttered as he limped off, dignity even more bruised by knowing he had an audience. At least, if you do something embarrassing at the back of the farm, it's likely nobody will see you.

Old age is also affecting our chocolate Labrador Milo. He's now 12 years old and his joints are suffering wear and tear, just like Bruce's, but without the excuse of years of sport and farming.

He's also deaf and increasingly cranky. He used to be merely enthusiastic about his meals, now he barks with impatience if the food isn't arriving fast enough for his liking. He also used to be very good about staying in one area of the house – now he thinks he can go anywhere.


He lurks by the dining table, hounds visitors for morsels of food and eats the catfood. Twice now he's broken into the pantry overnight and eaten a wild assortment of food.

In the morning, he sits looking furtive and guilty amid a pile of incriminating packets and wrappers.

The other night the evidence showed he had scoffed a packet of basmati rice, three packets of stir-fry noodles, a chocolate bar (which dogs aren't supposed to eat) and even had a crack at couscous, which apparently didn't appeal as he left most of it.

Even worse, he has twice now knocked the rubbish bin over and shuffled through its contents.

That's quite the discovery first thing in the morning, especially when you've had a baby visit the day before and Milo has discovered the joy of its nappies. The options are to move the dog or the bin – it seems far easier to put the bin in the hall for the night.

He also occasionally, and this could be related to his scavenging habit, had a little accident overnight. This happened the other night and Bruce, walking through in the dark on his way to check the calving cows, noticed something squishy underfoot but didn't think to check what it might be.


In daylight I found a little chunk of poop and footprints tracking it all the way down the hall.